Emma Winnet is able to name several favourite spots in her neighbourhood. The McDonald’s in Ala-Tikkurila comes to mind first. That’s where she likes to hang out with her friends. Another one of her favourites is Peltolan koulu, the school she goes to. Emma will be starting ninth grade there in autumn.
Before that, the Viertola (a district in the Tikkurila area) resident has an eventful summer ahead of her. She will be going to confirmation camp and get confirmed at her church. In August, she will be playing Nelly Noodlehead in the Theatre of Tikkurila’s summer theatre performance. She grows more and more giddy as the opening night approaches.
Emma has lived in Tikkurila since she was seven years old, but the neighborhood still has plenty to offer her. She spends a lot of time at the Tikkurila swimming pool. The 50-metre long lanes are great for training. Emma belongs to the Simmis Wanda swimming club and may swim as many as three kilometres in one session.
“But I’m not really a competitive swimmer,” Emma says modestly.
Alright, we’ll take her word for it. Tikkurila provides versatile opportunities for cultural as well as athletic hobbies, and Emma’s everyday life contains both. She has been practising theatre in the Theatre School of Tikkurila for around four years now. The theatre's exquisite rehearsal and performance facilities are located in Culture Factory Vernissa in the heart of Tikkurila.
Vernissa is housed in a former factory building by the Vantaanjoki river, where Emma and her friends go swimming in the summer. Here are Emma’s instructions for finding her swimming spot:
“We go swimming by the two piers near Jokirannan koulu. You can find the piers if you head diagonally left from Lidl and McDonald’s and follow the gravel road past the dog park.”
Note to self: find those piers. Although it might be a good idea to Google the place in advance and also look up the Påkas building, which acts a theatre venue in the summer. In August, its yard becomes the stage for Risto Räppääjä ja nukkavieru Nelli (Ricky Rapper and Needy Nelly), a play for the whole family. The theatre staff and audiences can finally breathe a sigh of relief: the worst of the pandemic is over.
Tikkurila is being built up at a fast pace
Many people find Tikkurila’s location to be its prime selling point when considering a new home or workplace. The ring rail line makes it easy to reach the area with a HSL train ticket from the Helsinki city centre as well as western Helsinki. The public bus network is comprehensive. Good transport links are particularly important to people who have to commute to work or school outside Tikkurila or who arrive to Tikkurila from elsewhere.
On this sunny weekday, the Tikkurila town centre is filled with hustle and bustle. At the heart of it all is the train station, which brings in new people at a steady pace. Many people are traversing the streets on foot, and for good reason: In Tikkurila, everything seems to be close by.
Along the promenade, there are people sitting in front of the Tikkurila church, in restaurants and in cafés. The long Tikkuraitti street soon turns into Peltolantie, where the barbershop and hairdresser Salon Josefina is located. The CEO of the salon, Jaakko “Jaska” Hellsten, discovered this great spot for his business in 1994, over 35 years ago.
“We have always been in Tikkurila. Our clientele includes all sorts of people from babies to grandpas. The age range is very wide, and we provide services accordingly,” Jaska says.
Eyelash extensions are the hottest trend at the moment. Salon Josefina employs five trained eyelash technicians for the job.
“Eyelash extensions are insanely popular right now. Lots of young people get them. Older customers have their lashes curled, which is done without adding extensions.”
Tikkurila has changed profoundly over the years Jaska has been running his business. While in the past many services used to be scattered all over the area, now the district centre is being built up more densely.
“Little by little, a real centre is forming in these parts. Now everything is within walking distance.”
Distance matters to the salon owner because he needs to take care of the well-being of his staff, which includes the availability of meals. Tikkurila has restaurants for everybody, and more are on the way.
“It seems like there are going to be a lot of new restaurants. Although I’d like to go back to the old days in that I wish there were more brick-and-mortar shops and specialised shops around.”
Specialised shops have their regular customers, as does Salon Josefina. In addition to good service, it also a large parking lot. Customers want to be able to get out of their cars and head straight for the salon. You would be hard pressed to find another plot as great as this one in Tikkurila.
Layers upon layers of history
Carita Välitalo, Theatre Manager of the Theatre of Tikkurila, echoes Jaska’s thoughts on the importance of location. The theatre is also in a prime spot that is easy to find. After years spent roaming the world, Carita has returned to her birthplace, this time for work. She directs plays and acts as the headmaster of the Theatre and Circus School of Tikkurila. The fact that she lives in Lahti is no problem.
“Tikkurila is a town of theatres: Vantaan Näyttämö, Tanssiteatteri Raatikko and Teatteri Vantaa all operate in the area. The Theatre of Tikkurila is an amateur theatre run by professionals, meaning the actors are amateurs but the teachers, costumers, administrative staff and other creative staff are on a salary,” she explains.
Through theatre performances, Carita has discovered Tikkurila’s multi-layered history. The play Viljo S. told the story of a member of the Red Guard who was imprisoned at age 17 in the Suomenlinna fortress but was later freed and went on to have a long career as a civil servant.
Vernissa is a place of personal importance to Carita: her grandmother worked there when it was still a varnish factory.
You can also dive into local history at the Vantaa City Museum, located in the centre of Tikkurila. However, Tikkurila does not just dwell on the past. The Finnish Science Centre Heureka displays science, both current and future, and the new buildings that are popping up whisper of future residents, stories and ways of life.
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